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County COVID-19 testing data will guide Crestview reopening

Brian Hughes
Special to Gannett
Crestview News Bulletin

CRESTVIEW — The Okaloosa County Department of Health’s first day of free public drive-through testing for COVID-19 drew roughly 300 residents to the Crestview Public Library parking lot Thursday morning.

A health department staff member at the scene said cars had begun lining up on Commerce Drive by 6:30 a.m. Traffic moved slowly but steadily as a team of greeters registered each vehicle’s driver and any passengers, then directed them to the staging area.

From there residents were directed to one of four drive-up lanes where a team of medical technicians verified identities and did a quick nasal swab before sending residents on their way. Test results will be returned in an estimated two to five days, DOH officials said.

For the city of Crestview, which cooperated with the health department to provide the testing site and police for traffic control, the results are important as officials plan the city’s reopening.

“The phased entry back to work is dependent on the data,” said City Manager Tim Bolduc. “We want to be able to make educated decisions on every step we take.”

Bolduc said data, including how many residents are infected with COVID-19, how many are hospitalized, how many have had the virus and how many have died from it, are all critical to understanding how the virus is affecting the city and how steadily businesses and city services can reopen.

The data will also help city officials determine how effective precautions have been, such as safer-at-home and the current phased-in reopening plan, he added.

“We want to get as much information as possible,” Bolduc said.

OKALOOSA COUNTY FREE DRIVE-THROUGH COVID-19 TESTING

The Okaloosa County Department of Health will offer free drive-thru COVID-19 testing from 8-11 a.m. on these dates:

May 19: Destin United Methodist Church, 200 Beach Dr., Destin

May 21: Northwest Florida State College, 100 E. College Blvd., Niceville

May 26: EMS Station 5, 5801 Monroe St., Baker

May 28: NWFSC, 1170 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Fort Walton Beach